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Wole Soyinka: Boko Haram must be destroyed

18 November 2012

The Books Blog has an interview with Wole Soyinka, the Nigerian author who won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1986. Soyinka is worth listening to for his ambivalence towards nationalism, his tolerant secularism and his recollection of solitary confinement during Nigeria’s civil war in the 1960s. But his comments on Boko Haram, the radical Islamist group that is terrorising northern and central Nigeria, are worth quoting here on a weekend of bloodshed in the Middle East.

‘I look at Boko Haram not just as a terrorist group, but also as a criminal gang, and a bunch of psychopaths. You don’t enter into dialogue with drug lords and criminals. It might be possible, for example, to enter into dialogue with an organization like MEND, in the Niger Delta — even though I disapproved of the blanket nature of their ideology.

Boko Haram is a violent machine, created by people who are out of control. There is only one thing to do: destroy that machine otherwise they will destroy you. Here is a group, whose only manifesto is: we want to Islamize Nigeria. This movement is simply saying: our way or no way. That is what I don’t understand what this dialogue is about.’

There’s plenty more; you can read it here.

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Show comments
  • Wilhelm

    The little ” sculpture , statue ” voodoo doll thingy, that’s great, isn’t it ? Gives me the creeps.

  • Vulture

    Is there any chance at all that Prof Soyinka could take over the Government of Britain from Mr Slippery?

    In the same way that Archbishop John Sentanu articulates traditional Christianity fearlessly, free from the guilt complexes and self-hatred of whiny liberal British Anglicans, so Soyinka, who like Sentanu received his excellent early education under the British Empire, tells it like it is.

    • Colonel Mustard

      It’s because ethnicity, thanks to decades of socialist identity politics, now determines what you can and cannot say. It’s the same way that high profile victims suddenly become instant experts on law and order and are consulted by government. We have descended into a morass where who you are qualifies what you have to say rather than any veracity of content.

  • Daniel Maris

    Boko Haram have to be destroyed. So do all who would violently impose oppressive Sharia law on us on us Christians, Jews,Hindus, Buddhists, atheists and agnostics.

  • Austin Barry

    The Religion of Peace. I wonder when it will win the Nobel Peace Prize.

  • LordLieutenant

    The simple answer would be to recognise that the arbitrary colonial boundary don’t reflect the reality on the ground and partition the country with the Muslim North forming one state and the South the other.

  • Curnonsky

    What European or American author would have the courage to say this?

    • Robert Castlereagh

      We read this all the time in the right wing political press. In the UK there is the EDL and in America, Faith Freedom, American Defence League and many others.
      We do not read about the violence perpetrated on suspected Boko Haram members by the Army. Today there has been yet another video of the execution by the Army of yet another BH captive.

  • abdullahi

    the prof. doesnt understand boko haram

  • Theo Clifford

    Are they criminals and drug lords, whose primary motivation is power and money, or are they jihadis whose primary motivation is propagating Islamist rule, or are they psychopaths who just want to cause mayhem? I don’t think Soyinka is sure, although he apparently is sure that whoever they are, Boko Haram are irredeemable baddies.

    • Daveyyy12

      Semantics.. Love it…

      irredeemable baddies… If I had a single power to transport people anywhere for you it would be northern Nigeria, Mali.. There you could play semantics with Boko Haram..

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